Disclaimer: Really, this is my 103rd story. If you haven't figured out that I don't own anything by now (FANfiction, remember?), then I worry for you.
Summary: Merida made a wish for her mother to understand her, a wish that went horribly wrong. Understanding takes effort, and goes both ways.
I WANT YOU BACK
My mother was not a Warrior-Queen, like those I admired in Legend, those who ruled by being the best fighters, leading their clan into battle, winning respect through strength of arms.
But she wasn't a weak-willed maiden sitting around waiting for someone else to rescue her, either. They ruled by being born a princess, marrying who they were told to, and being a pretty decoration to distract people from what their husband was saying.
My mother was the third kind, the Mother-Queen, who ran things through a combination of a gentle nature that refused to back down on the important issues, and took care of the rest by making the men-folk think that it was their idea in the first place. They rule through love.
My father did what my mother said because he loved her fiercely, and admitted that she was better at the practical side of things. However I rebelled against the restrictions placed on me, I did what my mother said because, subconsciously, I admired her, and the way she could quell a room full of fighting warriors just by walking through them. Even my brothers eventually obeyed her, when she gave a direct order.
The women of the kingdom obeyed her without question, because she was the queen, and the best way to deal with the warriors was to simply not back down. My mother was used to unruly men and boys, and to women who did as she asked. It wasn't that she didn't listen, just that she had a view of how things were supposed to be, and had trouble expressing the way she felt to me, a girl with the rebellious heart of a warrior.
Why did I never openly realize that until it was too late?
In truth, it was the King who was supposed to choose the weapons used in the rite of combat, but my mother wanted me to at least have something in common with the man I married, so she let me choose, speaking with such confidence that no-one bothered to question her. She and my father could have chosen for me, after I outshot all of the Chief's sons, but she managed to talk them into a sort of truce, to try and talk me around.
Looking back to our last fight, she had only meant to toss my bow aside, and it was pure chance and bad aim that caused it to land in the fire. When I tried to bring the tapestry down, to mend it, I saw my bow on the hearth. It was burned beyond usability, but someone had clearly done their best to get it out of the fire before it became ash, and that someone was not my father or brothers.
We all say and do things that we regret in the heat of anger.
When I followed the Will o' the Wisps, finding the witch, I thought only of how I wanted my mother to change. Truly, I didn't want her to change into a different person, only change just enough that we could talk, and see each other's point of view. Everyone knows that when it comes to magic, you have to be specific down to the last detail.
Saying something as general as 'I want her to change' is just asking for disaster.
But in some ways, I am glad that she did change into a bear.
When we were literally unable to understand each other, we had to actually work to communicate, when before we demanded that the other see only our point of view. In the throne room, she risked discovery and death every second as she coaxed me through a speech. I inherited my stubborn-ness from my father, but my willpower was all from my mother.
When we needed to feed ourselves, I could show my mother the value of my learning to shoot, and seeing her lay something so near to a breakfast table from rocks, bark and twigs frankly amazed me with the resourcefulness and determination it would have had to take. We had to rely on each other, and it was, in truth, the first time I was forced to take responsibility for another person.
We both remembered things we had almost forgotten. I remembered the happy times we shared, when I played at her feet while she sewed and sang to me, when she was the centre of my world, my protector from all things scary. In many ways, I think my mother still saw me as a young girl in need of her protection, not a young woman who had to grow up and make and remedy her own mistakes.
When the cauldron exploded in the Witch's house, my mother didn't hesitate before shielding me with her own body, or to break free of heavy bindings to take on the demon-bear, half again her size, when I was in danger. If she had still been a human woman, queen or not, she would have been killed in an instant. As a bear, the mother bear who had always been hidden beneath fine clothes and a regal manner, she was magnificent as she protected those she loved.
However terrifying, perhaps the adventure we shared was a hidden blessing. The Gods often do that, to teach us a lesson, and while we may not see it at the time, we often come out the better.
In the moments as the sun was rising, when I thought that I had condemned my mother to life as a bear, I cried in her arms as though I were a child again. I regretted what anger and pride had caused me to do, the rift that had grown between us, and I just wanted my mother back, as she was. In that act, safe within the arms of the mother that I never wanted to change, I truly grew up.
The ordeal we went through brought my mother and I closer together, helped us strike a balance between our conflicting desires and clashes of will.
I have more freedom to ride free and be myself, at the cost of taking my responsibilities more seriously. We have regained much of the closeness we once shared, through my mother spending time doing what I enjoy, instead of what she thinks I should enjoy.
My choice of suitors was always going to be limited, not the least because I would never be happy with one of the men from my own clan, who would always see me as a princess to be worshiped from afar. It was a bit of a shock – and a blow to my ego – to realize that the princes were nearly as unenthusiastic about the potential marriage as I was. None of them objected to marrying a pretty young woman with the spirit of a warrior, but like me, they wanted a choice in the matter.
One of them, who I had mocked as a 'poor lamb' was a lot like my mother – unassuming… until he exploded into action. A husband like that would stand beside me in battle and adventure, rather than expect me to stand aside for his glory.
Another was an attention-seeker of sorts, but also charismatic and smart. He was also the first to jump at my suggestion of marrying for love. We had a lot in common, and common interest could grow to friendship or love, if we both tried.
The third was almost impossible to understand, but he made me laugh, and I could see a union much like that of my own parents: very much in love, despite the differences that made people stare and wonder how on earth that pairing came to pass.
My parents had an arranged marriage, but they found happiness. The three future chiefs who came to court me were willing to try to win my heart before they won my hand, and that was more than a lot of people had.
I regret that it took my mother turning into a bear to bring this about, but I will never regret that it did happen.
A/N: A Mother-Daughter fic that popped into my head on the way home from the Advance Screening of 'Brave'.
Sort of the aftermath that we never really got to see. Merida succeeded in getting her mother turned back into a human queen, and they looked like they were becomming close, but I wanted a more in-depth look at the lesson learned.
A part of this stems from my relationship with my own mother. I'm a Daddy's Girl, and my mum and I have trouble seeing each other's point of view, or misunderstanding each other, but she is always there for me, even when I don't realize it.
If you have a Mum as great as mine, go hug her, then come back and tell me what you think.